HomeBlogIntergenerational programmes. From experience to evidence.

Intergenerational programmes. From experience to evidence.

Coinciding with the celebration, this 29th April, of the European Day of Intergenerational Solidarity, in this entry we briefly analyse the twenty-one years of Matia's participation in programmes of an intergenerational nature, as well as the challenges we face in the future.

Generally speaking, intergenerational programmes bring together older and younger people, inspired by the idea that each generation has something to offer the other. They are, therefore, meeting places that break with the usual age segregation in our society, and where age differences become an incentive and a source of generational connection that helps to provide a purpose in life.

Our first experience began in 1997. That year, the Ikastola Axular Lizeoa expressed its interest in setting up a solidarity programme through which students aged 16-17 would volunteer at our Bermingham centre. As they told us from this school, the activity would be aimed at promoting intergenerational communication and raising awareness of young people in social problems, as well as creating meaningful leisure alternatives, which would help students develop their personality and values. As you can imagine the idea was well received and in a short time we had our first group of students sharing a few hours a week with older people from this centre. After Bermingham, Rezola was incorporated, and the success of the experience was confirmed, the rest of the centres have gradually contacted nearby schools to enjoy similar projects.

At present, in Matia we have about 800 children and young people from nineteen schools* who participate every year as volunteers in programmes of this nature. The objectives sought in these programmes are diverse, and depend above all on the age of the children who attend the centres. In general, with the youngest children we work on aspects such as the oral transmission of knowledge about games, history of the area or ways of life... The aim is to bring out pleasant topics of conversation and to generate spaces of complicity and encounter between the older and younger people.

In the case of older students, the programmes are more intense, with smaller groups and more individualised support, seeking to develop meaningful activities and promoting the mutual transmission of knowledge and skills. In this last group would be Ane, a student of Axular Lizeoa, who in her appearance in the documentary "Zure Etxea: Matia Zaleak" reflects on and shares her experience as a volunteer accompanying Paco:

“To change our view of older people we need to get to know them. Sometimes it may seem to us that they are aliens, because they take a lot of the age difference out of us, but that is not the case. It's nice to be in different cycles of life, because you can learn a lot".

Year after year, schools are increasingly interested in joining intergenerational programmes. Among the reasons for this growing interest are the benefits they seem to bring to children and adolescents. This positive assessment is shared by Matia's centres, which consider it a very enriching experience, in which many of the people who live in this house enjoy contact with the children.

But... do we know exactly what effects and benefits this experience has on the participants? What kind of people benefit and how? Do they prefer the relationship with younger or older children? Is one or the other more beneficial? All these and many other questions remain unanswered, and for this reason, at Matia Institute we want to develop research in this field, and be able to demonstrate what experience is showing us: that both children and older people benefit from this interaction and from these spaces in which they can share their lives.

* The complete list of schools that have collaborated with Matia in 2018 is as follows: Jesusen Bihotza, San Millan Eskola, Pedro Mª Otaño, Colegio San Ignacio-Jesuitas San Sebastián, Intxaurrondo Ikastola, Larramendi Ikastetxea, English School, Axular Lizeoa, Gainzuri Eskola, La Salle Zumarraga Ikastetxea, Urretxu Zumarraga Ikastola, Jakintza Eskola, Santa Teresa Ikastetxea, Ekintza, Deusto, Haurtzaro Ikastola, Orixe Eskola, Hazi&Hezi and Maria eta Jose Ikastetxea.

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